IMHO: Getting The Right Treatment Right Away Halts Disability

  • With the latest focus on treating individuals in the prodromal stage with psychosocial modalities, with or without medication, I wanted to give my take on the story.


    In 1986, exactly one year before I had my breakdown, I sought help because I felt something wasn't right.  I met with a woman at the Student Life Office on my college campus and didn't click with her so stopped going after two sessions.


    A year later, I had a break on a Friday night and that Saturday morning my mother drove me to the hospital.  A day later I was given medication and three weeks later the symptoms had stopped completely.

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    Had I gotten treated in 1986, might I not have had the break?  We can't determine this.  Giving medication to a person who hasn't had a breakdown must be done judiciously.  It's not always warranted yet I can tell you one thing: after a person has a psychotic break, doing nothing is not the answer. 


    The quicker you get treated, the more likely the medication will work, according to the Harvard Mental Health Letter November 2008.


    A diagnosis of schizophrenia is made only if symptoms last 6 months.  That's entirely too long in my opinion to be psychotic without taking medication.  If you ask me, the window of opportunity for preventing ongoing disability or permanent residual symptoms is only one year.  I would go so far as to say that waiting longer than 6 months to take medication isn't good either.


    I know two female bloggers who didn't get help until more than 5 psychotic years passed, and their lives have been continual hell.  One woman who published a memoir in 2005 has revolved in and out of the hospital at least once a year since then and sometimes twice a year.


    Anyone who tells you they can treat psychosis with an alternative treatment is practicing medicine without a license.  Taking a person into a room and talking to him or her quietly won't quickly stop the symptoms.  Various other treatments, like vitamin therapy, do not help a lot of people either. 


    Delaying taking effective medication can result in permanent disability as I alluded to in the examples of the two female bloggers.


    I'm here to tell you that getting the right treatment immediately after a psychotic break can render a person symptom-free the rest of his or her life. 


    As for going on a drug holiday, it's natural to want to try it once.  If it fails, I don't recommend going on another drug holiday.


    A minority of people who have schizophrenia can live without medication.  Since the number is so low, my stance is to tell others: It's not a good idea to go on any kind of drug holiday and risk becoming psychotic again.  


    I've been in remission from schizophrenia for over 20 years because I take an excellent drug and I'm employed at two jobs I love.  Thus I make the case for quick treatment with the right medication and with the right therapy.

    Coming up in the next slide show, I'll detail 7 strategies for managing schizophrenia drug side effects.

Published On: August 10, 2014